Six Aussie startups that raised $45.1 million this week

HAL Systems

HAL Systems co-founders, Vicky and Julian Featherston. Image: Supplied

The overall tally of startup funding announced this week may be smaller than the weeks gone by, but we think this is only the beginning for these Aussie startups.

Take a look at six Aussie startups that together raised $45.1 million this week — plus a bonus early-stage startup that now has more than $100,000 in prizes to help it grow.

Upstream: $20 million

Energy startup Upstream has secured a $20 million investment from MA Financial’s growth ventures business, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Founded in 2013 by Nathan Begley, Upstream aims to help companies lower their energy costs by fitting out its clients’ sites, such as retail stores or bank branches, with its own solar panels along and ancillary infrastructure. The companies then purchase energy from Upstream, instead of the grid.

According to the AFR, Upstream operates some 15 megawatts of rooftop solar energy and battery storage and wants to reach 100 MW in three years. The startup is already working with the likes of ANZ Bank and Beacon Lighting.

Awayco: $11 million

Shanti Kumar and Gideon Gut-Silverman of Awayco. Source: Supplied

Prominent Australian investor Alex Waislitz is backing e-commerce startup Awayco as it seeks to solidify its position helping leading retailers such as PETstock better serve their customers, with his Thorney Investment Group leading an $11 million investment in the business.

A cohort of high-net-worth individuals also participated in the round, according to a statement from Awayco, which was founded in 2018 by Gideon Gut-Silverman, originally as a rental software business focused on the circular economy.

Five years on, Awayco now offers POSConnex, a “unified e-commerce solution”, to retailers that combine point of sale (POS), rental and appointments, so retailers can offer their customers new and second-hand products and services to buy, book and rent on any platform.

The platform was first piloted with a range of retailers in the US, including Patagonia, and is now used by the likes of PETstock, Star Discount Pharmacy, Cheap as Chips and Firewire Surfboards.

Awayco has also announced its acquisition of Australian POS retailer Barcode Solutions, which has been operating for 35 years. Its CEO Shanti Kumar will now take the position of CEO of Awayco POSConnex, while Gut-Silverman will continue to lead the company’s global growth across both Awayco Enterprise and POSConnex.

Programa: $7.5 million

Interior design startup Programa has also raised this week, locking in $7.5 million in a round led by EVP, reports The Australian.

Founded in 2020 by Traviss Orr, Zoe Lowres and Claudio Oyarce, Programa is a project management platform for interior designers and architects, which also allows them to track orders and in the future, manage sales with suppliers and customers.

According to The Australian, the startup has 2000 paying designers on the platform, which has more then 25,000 projects across more than 65 countries.

The goal is to reduce the manual processing, and reliance on spreadsheets, which is prolific in the interior design industry, according to the founders.

“From the first day we met the Programa team, we were taken by their compelling vision to revolutionise the way designers and brands operate,” said EVP investment principal Mark Velik.

“The design industry represents one of the few remaining markets still dominated by pen and paper, excel spreadsheets and clunky legacy software, making it a prime candidate for disruptive software.”

Kivera: $5.1 million

Kivera co-founders Vernon Jefferson and Neil-Brown. Source: Supplied

Sydney-founded cloud security startup Kivera plans to use its new $5.1 million in seed funding to add new talent to its team as it focuses on expanding into North America, having also recently relocated its headquarters to New York.

Kivera describes itself as a preventative cloud security platform, which aims to “disrupt malicious attacks via cloud misconfigurations before they begin”.

The funding comes from General Advance, Round 13 Capital, and a host of angel investors including Srinath Kuruvadi, managing director and head of cloud security at JP Morgan & Chase; Ely Kahn, vice president of product for cloud security and AI/ML at SentinelOne; BigID founder and CEO Dimitri Sirota; and other senior executives from Amazon, Google, Shift5, ServiceNow, and Zscaler.

Kivera was founded in Sydney in 2019 by Neil Brown and Vernon Jefferson, with Joe Lea recently joining the startup as CEO.

HAL Systems: $850,000

HAL systems featherston house

Image: HAL Systems

Melbourne climate tech startup, HAL Systems has also secured new funding this week, having raised $850,000 in seed funding led by LaunchVic’s Alice Anderson Fund.

The climate control tech startup was founded by Julian and Vicky Featherston, and as SmartCompany‘s Tegan Jones reported earlier this week, the startup’s origin story started with the families’ iconic Featherston House, designed by Robyn Boyd, in Ivanhoe in Melbourne.

Angel investor Tony Isaacson, former managing director of Kane Constructions and chair of the Robin Boyd Foundation, participated in the funding round, and HAL Systems has also been awarded an additional $50,000 grant from the Victorian Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Change.

The startup considers the investment a big win in a challenging funding environment.

“Together with the downturn in investment, we knew the odds were against us. But we were determined and we persisted,” co-founder Vicky Featherston said to SmartCompany.

“We’re thrilled to have the backing we’ve now received. Finding people that believe in you and your mission is hugely validating.”

Read more.

Lifebid: $700,000


LifeBid founder Brett Wright. Source: Supplied

A startup seeking to disrupt the insurance market has raised $700,000 in new funding as it also kicks off an equity crowdfunding campaign via Stride Equity.

LifeBid was founded by Brett Wright in 2019, and seeks to offer an end-to-end tech solution for the life insurance market, to streamline the management of life insurance policies as well as cut costs. According to the company, it has 2000 advisors on the waitlist for its platform in Australia.

The $700,000 in funding comes in the form of a strategic co-investment by Stride Group, operators of Stride Equity, together with industry partners, the names of which have not been disclosed.

Stride Equity launched earlier this year and LifeBid is the first company that Stride Group is investing in, as well as hosting an equity crowdfunding campaign. To host a campaign on Stride Equity, companies must be pre-qualified with Stride’s investment team and meet the criteria for co-investment.

“As advisers ourselves, and like many others in the life insurance sector, we have seen how expensive it has become for consumers to access good quality advice and cover, and experienced how hard, unprofitable and risky it has become for advisers, licensees, and insurers to help more Australians,” said Wright in a statement.  

nVest: $115,000 in prizes

pitch sydney nvest

Image: Pitch Sydney winner and nVest founder, Sivan Atad

In some funding news of a slightly different kind, last night nVest, an early-stage startup that helps businesses build investment features into their products, won $115,000 in prizes at the Pitch, SmartCompany’s early-stage startup competition.

Guest judges chose nVest as the winner of up to $100,000 in AWS active credits and $15,000 in consulting services from BlueRock, thanks to founder Sivan Atad’s great pitch and ability to find “a problem that is being explored in other markets but is unsolved locally”.

nVest was chosen as the winner out of six shortlisted startups that pitched on the night.


Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SmartCompany Plus

Sign in

To connect a sign in method the email must match the one on your SmartCompany Plus account.
Or use your email
Forgot your password?

Want some assistance?

Contact us on: or call the hotline: +61 (03) 8623 9900.